Farm Rhythms and Seasons

5693_1234422659847_4467192_n

photo by Lea Gibson

When I pull open the barn doors,
every morning
and each evening,
as my grandfathers did
one hundred years ago,
seven rumbling voices
rise in greeting.
We exchange scents,
nuzzle each others’ ears.

I do my chores faithfully
as my grandfathers once did–
draw fresh water
into buckets,
wheel away
the pungent mess underfoot,
release an armful of summer
from the bale,
reach under heavy manes
to stroke silken necks.

I don’t depend
on our horses’ strength
and willingness to
don harness
to carry me to town
or move the logs
or till the soil
as my grandfathers did.

Instead,
these soft eyed souls,
born on this farm
two long decades ago,
are simply grateful
for my constancy
morning and night
to serve their needs
until the day comes
they need no more.

And I depend on them
to depend on me
to be there
to open the doors;
their low whispering welcome
gives voice
to the blessings of
living on a farm
ripe with rhythms and seasons,
as if today and tomorrow are
just like one hundred years ago.

207535_9141220461_3263_n

photo by Emily Dieleman

Best of 2013 Barnstorming Photos

decsunlone fir taken last New Year’s Eve 2012

These photos (unless identified otherwise) were all taken this year with my Canon Powershot pocket camera.
Here’s to capturing more moments and preserving memories in 2014…

tulipsamSam stopping to smell the spring tulips

irisrainbearded iris

marshmallow fields forevermarshmallow fields forever

buggediris (and bugs) in Ireland

photo by Emily Gibson

The Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland

Rhodendron forest Rowallen Gardens, County Down, Ireland

Rhodendron forest Rowallen Gardens, County Down, Ireland

waterlilies2water lilies in Mount Stewart Gardens, Northern Ireland

pastoralpond2Mount Stewart pond, Northern Ireland

-1
Scottish kitty snoozing in a Galloway B&B sunroom

sunsetdaisysummer sunset on the farm

grasssunsummer sunset (and bug)

benchPoint No Point, Vancouver Island

sunsetjuly164Sunset, Strait of Juan de Fuca

nest2almost the world’s largest hornet’s nest (on the farm)

rainbow96
summer evening rainbow

farmgirlsHaying crew

dawn7251summer morning haze

tammingasunseta joyful evening on the hill

sunset817

eveningrun

hidingouta front porch visitor in a box of Asian pears

morningweb2spider web in morning fog

abandoned schoolhouse near Rapalje, Montana (actually from 2012)

abandoned schoolhouse near Rapalje, Montana (photo taken in 2012)

sunset7272

thistlebugsthistle full of ants

closerfull moon sunset

same pair, two months ago

Doe and fawn, WWU campus

rain8After an August rain

sunset8314evening on the farm

dandy4dandelion at dusk

sunset9161sunset sky

sunrise830summer morning rain

webdrizzle2web architecture

thistledowndrizzlethistledown

hydrangeaturninghydrangea

hydrangealace3spent hydrangea

creeperchurchvirginia creeper

rainyclothesline3too wet to hang clothes

sunrise10611looking north to the Canadian Coastal Range

fog101948October fog

fog101954

fog101952

wwucolorfallen leaves on the plexiglass cover of a WWU bicycle rack

myohmyMountain shadow of Mt Baker at dawn

firstfrost3first frost

frost112313

sunset12713Twin Sisters

walnut4squirrel hollowed walnut shell

sundayafternoonAutumn landscape

lichen6lichenlichen7

rainyrose5rainy rose

rainbowsunrise2morning rainbow at dawn

solstice15last evening of autumn, first snow

canadianrockies2

snow12201324snow on last day of autumn

20131230-080912.jpgSwan in downtown Tokyo in December

And the changing plum trees…

photo by Chris Lovegren from our farm hilltop, Easter Sunrise 2012

plum trees photo by Chris Lovegren from our farm hilltop, Easter Sunrise Service

sunrise1042fall foggy morning

twinlayerslate October

plumtwinswinterNew Year’s Eve

A Melancholy Nature

frontwalnutmist

wwusouth

rainymares

A fine rain was falling, and the landscape was that of autumn. 
The sky was hung with various shades of gray,
and mists hovered about the distant mountains
– a melancholy nature. 
Every landscape is,
as it were,
a state of the soul,
and whoever penetrates into both
is astonished to find how much likeness there is in each detail.
~Henri Frederic Amiel

 

What is melancholy
at first glance
glistens bejeweled
when studied up close.

It isn’t all sadness~
there is solace in knowing
the landscape and I share
an inner world of tears.

1031drops7

1031drops1

1031drops8

 fog1021

Thanking the Light

sunset1023

sunrise10231

Now a red, sleepy sun above the rim
Of twilight stares along the quiet weald,
And the kind, simple country shines revealed
In solitudes of peace, no longer dim.
The old horse lifts his face and thanks the light,
Then stretches down his head to crop the green.
All things that he has loved are in his sight;
The places where his happiness has been
Are in his eyes, his heart, and they are good.
~Siegfried Sassoon from “Break of Day”

sunset965

sunset92horses3

The Sheer Sheen of Grace

rainbow961

rainbow96

Don’t grieve that it’s gone, wonder that it was.
Laugh that you lived and dance that you dared.
Inhale that it happened — and it was grace.
And I memorize the light — that is how to make the smallest life big and grand –

The best way to prepare for what’s ahead is to be present to what is now.
Be present to the gift of now.
And right then –

the sheer sheen of grace on everything lights.
~Ann Voskamp www.aholyexperience.com

sunset966

Dazzle Gradually

sunset92horses4

sunset92horses
The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.
~Emily Dickinson from “Tell All the Truth But Tell it Slant…”

We can’t always handle all the truth all at once.  It is best for the truth to slowly bring us out of the shadows where we tend to hide to become an illuminating back drop to our lives that transforms, depending on the slant.

We begin a two dimensional silhouette and, in the light of the Truth, become fully realized, bright shining and dazzled.

And dazzling to behold.

I once was lost, but now am found.  Was blind but now I see.

sunset92horses2

sunset92horses3

Lie Light, Good Night

sunset8221

wallysunset

“Warm summer sun, shine kindly here;
Warm southern wind, blow softly here;
Green sod above, lie light, lie light -
Good night, dear heart, good night, good night.”
~Mark Twain

sunset8222

August rushes by like desert rainfall,
A flood of frenzied upheaval,
Expected,
But still catching me unprepared.
Like a match flame
Bursting on the scene,
Heat and haze of crimson sunsets.
Like a dream
Of moon and dark barely recalled,
A moment,
Shadows caught in a blink.
Like a quick kiss;
One wishes for more
But it suddenly turns to leave,
Dragging summer away.
-  Elizabeth Maua Taylor, August  

sunsetthroughblackberries

“Let me enjoy this late-summer day of my heart while the leaves are still green and I won’t look so close as to see that first tint of pale yellow slowly creep in. I will cease endless running and then look to the sky ask the sun to embrace me and then hope she won’t tell of tomorrows less long than today. Let me spend just this time in the slow-cooling glow of warm afternoon light and I’d think I will still have the strength for just one more last fling of my heart.”
- John Bohrn, Late August

sunset8224

The Tears of Summer

cowmorning

The grasses in the field have toppled,
and in places it seems that a large, now
absent, animal must have passed the night.
The hay will right itself if the day
turns dry.
I miss you steadily, painfully
~Jane Kenyon from “Heavy Summer Rain”

The sun returns
and the tears will dry.

The impression left on my heart
still twinges with every beat.

Eventually, though trampled and toppled,
I right myself to face the rain again.

The truth is, I need it, can’t live without it.

sunsetgrasss

photo by Nate Gibson

photo by Nate Gibson

Borne Our Loads

photo by Nate Gibson

photo by Nate Gibson

And then, that evening
Late in the summer the strange horses came.

In the first moment we had never a thought
That they were creatures to be owned and used.

Since then they have pulled our plows and borne our loads,
But that free servitude still can pierce our hearts.
Our life is changed; their coming our beginning.

~Edwin Muir from “The Horses”

There is nothing that truly compels a horse to wear a saddle, pull a heavy burden, chew a cold bit until it foams warm, no fear of whip or spur or harsh word.  They, so much more powerful than we are, choose the work, to do what is needed, to serve freely, to be there because they were asked.

How much more we learn from the lather of their sweaty grace –  how to choose the labor that changes lives, how to offer up love in gratitude for the reward of a nose buried in sweet clover.

photo by Nate Gibson

photo by Nate Gibson

Be Well, Be Glad

at twenty

at 18 on Prankster for one last evening ride before I went to college and he went to a new home

At dusk, everything blurs and softens…

The horse bears me along, like grace,
making me better than what I am,
and what I think or say or see
is whole in these moments, is neither
small nor broken.  Who then
is better made to say be well, be glad,

or who to long that we, as one,
might course over the entire valley,
over all valleys, as a bird in a great embrace
of flight, who presses against her breast,
in grief and tenderness,
the whole weeping body of the world?
~Linda McCarriston from “Riding Out At Evening”

Remembering nearly three score of younger birthdays on my 59th~~

What I think or say or see is whole
in these tender moments
of my lengthening life
in this weeping world:

I am so glad to be so well.

as a yearling

as a yearling

at age two with Nancy holding baby Steve along with the Schmitz cousins

at age two with the Schmitz cousins, my baby brother in my sister’s lap

age 6 with the kindergarten car pool crowd

age 6 with the kindergarten car pool crowd

age 8

age 8

age nine

age nine

age 16

age 16 (surprise party by my next door neighbor and best friend)

age 25

age 25